The (Neo)Tribal Nature of Grindr
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how users of the popular geo-spatial networking app, Grindr, approach and engage with a function in the interface called ‘Tribes’. This function allows users to select which Tribe they identify with and to search for others of a specific Tribe, and reference a unique set of subcultures and subgroups replete within the gay community. Through the use of interview data, it becomes clear that Tribes as a function on Grindr’s interface is a very rigid and exclusionary method of expressing one’s identity, and has problematic implications for those exploring their sexual identity. However, participants also described the creative way in which they approach Tribal identity, the deeper connections that it assists them in forging with the community, and the social and cultural importance that Tribes possess. Maffesoli’s conception of neo-tribes assists in unpacking this interesting duality, and highlights that as a form of social/personal identity, Tribes on Grindr are inherently neo-tribal in nature; however, Grindr’s approach to incorporating this form of identity into the interface is at heavy odds with neo-tribalism.
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